The top-seeded Baltimore Ravens routed the Houston Texans, 34-10, in Saturday’s AFC Divisional Round game at M&T Bank Stadium. The Texans gave Baltimore a fight in the first half, but Baltimore pulled it together and dominated in the final 30 minutes.
The Ravens advance to the AFC Championship Game and will host the winner of the Chiefs-Bills game next Sunday. It’s Baltimore’s first appearance in the AFC Championship since 2012, when they won the Super Bowl. It will be the first time in franchise history that the Ravens host an AFC Championship.
Ravens All-Pro quarterback Lamar Jackson showcased why he’s the front-runner for League MVP. Jackson completed 16 of 22 passes (72.7%) for 152 yards with two touchdowns, no interceptions, and a passer rating of 121.8. He also led the Ravens in rushing with 100 yards on 11 carries (9.1 average) and two touchdowns. Jackson is the first player in NFL history (regular season or postseason) to have in one game: two passing touchdowns, two rushing touchdowns, 100 rushing yards and a 100 passer rating. In the first half, the Ravens had 48 yards on four Jackson scrambles and 70 net yards on their other 27 plays.
After trading field goals in the first quarter, Jackson connected to Nelson Agholor for a 3-yard touchdown to give Baltimore a 10-3 lead. Jackson scrambled for 38 yards on two carries on the drive. Following three-and-outs by both teams, former Steeler Steven Sims Jr. answered with a 67-yard punt return to the house to tie the game at 10-10 with 4:17 remaining in the half. Texans kicker Ka’imi Fairbairn missed a 47-yard field goal, and the score was tied 10-10 at halftime.
The Texans recorded three sacks and five quarterback hits on Jackson in the first half. The Texans blitzed on 13 of 18 dropbacks in the first half (72.2%), generating 10 pressures and 3 sacks on blitzes, according to Next Gen Stats. Entering today, DeMeco Ryans had never blitzed on a majority of dropbacks in a game during his three seasons as a defensive play caller.
The Ravens made proper halftime adjustments, however.
Jackson capped a six-play, 55-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown run to start the second half. Jackson completed 3 of 4 passes for 37 yards on the possession. Jackson went back to work on the ensuing possession and led the Ravens down the field on a 12-play, 93-yard touchdown drive that took 7:03 off the clock. Tight end Isiah Likely caught a 15-yard touchdown from Jackson to enhance the Ravens’ lead to 24-10 with 14:23 remaining in the fourth quarter. Jackson picked up 14 yards on quarterback-designed run on fourth-and-1 from the 50-yard line to keep the drive alive.
The Ravens’ defense completely shutdown the Texans in the second half. Rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud and offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik simply didn’t have an answer.
Jackson sealed the win with an 8-yard touchdown run off a bootleg to give Baltimore a commanding 31-10 lead. It was the Ravens’ third consecutive touchdown drive in the second half. Justin Tucker finished things off with a 43-yard field goal.
Baltimore out-rushed the Texans, 221-31. Behind Jackson, Justice Hill rushed for 66 yards on 13 carries (5.1 average), while Gus Edwards rushed for 40 yards on 10 carries (4.0 average). Dalvin Cook also pitched in with 23 yards on eight carries (2.9 average). The Ravens dominated on the ground and in time of possession in the second half.